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Author Topic: The Religious History of the Roman Empire: Pagans, Jews, and Christians. Oxford Readi  (Read 2591 times)


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Title: The Religious History of the Roman Empire: Pagans, Jews, and Christians. Oxford Readings in Classical Studies
Author(s): J. A. North, S. R. F. Price (ed.)
Publisher: Oxford; New York:  Oxford University Press
Publication Date: 2011
ISBN-13: 9780199567355
ISBN: 0199567352
Current Price and More Info from Amazon

[SIZE=+1]From the Bryn Mawr Classic Review:[/SIZE]
The latest volume in the Oxford Readings in Classical Studies series, The Religious History of the Roman Empire, is a demanding collection of seventeen essays various in subject matter, ranging from the very theoretical to the much more concrete, and very recent in date (the oldest contribution, that of Averil Cameron, is from 1994; the most recent is from 2007, along with four from 2006).1 In a moment I shall have more to say on the organization of the volume and some of its features, but a few remarks on the book’s purpose and audience are warranted first.2 In the very brief introduction (1-5), it is made clear that the collection intends to showcase the necessity of interdisciplinarity in the study of ancient religions, rather than leaving pagans to the Classicists, Christians to the Theology Faculties, and Jews to the Jewish Studies scholars, because studying any of these groups in isolation "will always result in a warped and partial view of their histories" (2). To that end, the editors have selected papers that "illustrate the work of some of the scholars who have influenced the arguments" and that "indicate some of the key moments" in the debates on the religious history of the Roman Empire (1). Thus many of these essays are dense, rigorous, and highly technical, and sometimes difficult to understand without a good deal of background knowledge. At the same time, "the selection of the work" is "designed to cater for those taking courses, whether in History, Religious Studies, Classics, or any other related discipline" (5)—that is, students will "find [it] a valuable introduction to the study of developments in ancient religious life" (5). There is, it seems to me, a tension between these two goals, because some of the material is pitched not to the student but to the specialist. The fact that all citations from languages other than English have been translated alleviates some of the potential difficulties, as do the incredibly useful individual bibliographies for each essay along with the "Suggestions for Further Reading" included at the end (564-71); but best of all would have been a longer and more detailed introduction elucidating how the papers fit together, relate to one another, and take their place in the larger debates of which they are obviously a part. There are interesting connections to be made among several of the contributions, but these are left implicit for the reader to discover. For the student, the novice, and the non-specialist instructor some guidance would have been useful. As it stands, for those particular audiences the book will best function as a collection of supplementary case-studies for a narrative history such as that by M. Beard and the two editors of the collection under consideration.3

Read the full review at the Bryn Mawr Classic Review web site.

[SIZE=+1]Additional Description:[/SIZE]
This collection of papers, many of them either published here in English for the first time or previously available only in specialist libraries, deals with the religious history of the Roman Empire. Written by leading scholars, the essays have contributed to a revolutionary change in our understanding of the religious situation of the time, and illuminate both the world religions of Christianity and Judaism and the religious life of the pagan Empire in which these developed and which deeply influenced their characters. No knowledge of ancient languages is presupposed, so the book is accessible to all who are interested in the history of this crucial period.

[SIZE=+1]Special Notes:[/SIZE]

[SIZE=-1]Legal Notes: Some description text and item pictures in this post may come from and are used by permission. The Cauldron is an Amazon Affiliate and purchases made through the Amazon links in this message help support The Cauldron.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=+1]Discussion and reviews of this book are welcome in this thread. If you've read the book, please tell us what you think of it and why.[/SIZE]
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